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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/12/08

Gates Says Talks with Taliban "Conceivable" - Let's Get Started

By Robert Naiman  Posted by Robert Naiman (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages) (View How Many People Read This)   1 comment
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Defense Secretary Gates said Thursday that the U.S. could "ultimately" contemplate the idea of negotiating with the Taliban to secure a political settlement in Afghanistan, if the Afghan government were to pursue such talks, the <em>Financial Times</em> <a href="click here Gates said a political settlement with the Taliban was "conceivable."

"There has to be ultimately, and I'll underscore ultimately, reconciliation as part of a political outcome to this," Gates said.

Eventually, Gates seems to be saying, we're going to have to talk to the Taliban. But not yet. If this is where we're going, why not get started now? Although Secretary Gates and <a href="click here Petraeus</a> have acknowledged what the British are saying - that there should be talks with the Taliban - and even made supportive comments, neither Presidential candidate has yet acknowledged what the British are saying. <a href="click here on them to do so</a>.

<a href="
Back in June, Anatol Lieven <a href="
click here </a>in the <em>Financial Times</em>,

<blockquote>We need to start serious negotiations with the Taliban leadership now, not because such talks promise any chance of results by next year's Afghan elections, or by 2011, but because the great majority of settlements to such conflicts have been achieved only after many years of negotiations.

Lieven noted that poll data suggest that the majority of Taliban fighters are primarily motivated by the desire to drive foreign troops from the country. So, we're staying in Afghanistan to fight people whose primary motivation is getting us to leave. What's wrong with this picture?

Of course, with the US election a month away, the great temptation is to keep whistling past the graveyard. But the danger is that both major Presidential candidates are on track to lock us into a military escalation, which without a political change, will almost certainly fail, needlessly killing many Americans and Afghanis.

Gates' comments followed <a href="click here by the top British general in Afghanistan that there is no military solution, there must be a political solution, and that there should be talks with the Taliban. The general's comments were <a href="click here by the British government</a>, and also <a href="click here by the top UN official in Afghanistan</a>.

One obstacle seems to be that our politicians have painted our country into a rhetorical corner through years of demonizing the Taliban, without acknowledging that, regardless of their crimes, they might have some legitimate aspirations - like driving foreign troops out of the country. [How would you like having foreign troops stationed in your neighborhood?]

So we need to start introducing reality into the conversation. We've started a group on Facebook: "<a href="click here Can Find 1000 Americans Who Support Talks with the Taliban</a>." Join our group on Facebook. Prove there are at least a thousand Americans who are willing to state the obvious:

<a href="</a>


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Robert Naiman is Senior Policy Analyst at Just Foreign Policy. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and (more...)
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